South Texas Region Begins 2018 with Critically Low Blood Supplies
Following several weeks of slow donations over the Holidays, local commemorations of National Blood Donor Month are beginning on a dire note this January, as the South Texas region faces a critical need for blood, according to the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. The need is particularly urgent for O negative blood, which as the universal blood type is especially important in emergencies and trauma situations.
The blood center is featuring “Texas Strong” as the theme for National Blood Donor Month, to build on the community’s response to blood donation needs following devastating events such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs.
“Our South Texas communities stepped up to donate during difficult times in 2017,” said Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, STBTC associate medical director. “Unfortunately, as time passes, people get back to their routines and tend to forget that the need for lifesaving blood continues.
“We have to be ready at all times – to provide blood to local hospitals conducting surgeries, treating cancer patients and providing blood transfusions for trauma cases,” Gomez said.
To remind the community of the continued need for blood donations and to promote the “Texas Strong” message, the Alamo Quarry Market is lighting its iconic smokestacks in red through Jan. 8. Other local organization wishing to show support are encouraged to display signage and/or light their buildings in red.
Volunteers who donate at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center donor rooms or at mobile drives during the month of January will receive a “Texas Strong” T-shirt while supplies last.
National Blood Donor Month comes at a time when blood donations are at low levels because of holiday events and travel, as well as school closures. Approximately 30 percent of STBTC’s collections come from drives at high schools and colleges.
While STBTC collects more than 150,000 blood donations a year, many volunteers give more than once, so the number of actual donors is smaller. Nationally, only four percent of the population donates blood. About 80 percent of the blood collected is donated at 3,000 mobile/bus drives held across 43 counties in Central and South Texas.
All donors are required to have a photo ID. Anyone who is 16 years old and weighs at least 120 pounds (with parental consent form), or 17 years old and weighs at least 110 pounds and is in good general health may donate blood.